Specter switches to Dems to avoid primary defeat

Fox News:

Veteran GOP Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania announced Tuesday he will switch political parties and run in the Democratic primary in 2010.

Republican voters had sent him to the Senate five times. But faced with the prospect of a strong challenge from conservative Pat Toomey in the GOP primary and the state trending Democratic, Specter issued a statement that he was going to jump ship.

"I deeply regret that I will be disappointing many friends and supporters," Specter said at a news conference on Tuesday.

"I can understand their disappointment," he continued. "I am also disappointed that so many in the party I have worked for for more than four decades do not want me to be their candidate. It is very painful on both sides."

The switch puts Democrats within one vote of a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. Democrats currently hold 56 seats in the Senate, and two independents typically vote with the party. Republicans have 41 seats.

With Specter switching sides, Democrats will reach the magical number of 60 if Al Franken, who has been entangled in a protracted court battle with incumbent Sen. Norm Coleman, is seated in Minnesota.

Despite the change in political stripes, Specter vowed to remain an independent voice in the Senate.

"My change in party affiliation does not mean that I will be a party-line voter any more for the Democrats that I have been for the Republicans," he said.

...

I think he was rejected by Republicans because of his vote on the disastrous stimulus bill. He saw that he could not get the Republican nomination next year and he thinks he can get the Democrat. This will not be as big a change for Republicans as it appears on the surface.

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